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2nd May 2022

A week in the life of a Trainee Ranger

Hello readers, it’s Eve here from the Countryside Skills with Ranger Training course NLP run alongside UHI West Highland. I am going to tell you a bit about what we’ve been up to over the last wee while.

This week the trainee rangers spent 5 days learning the craft of dry-stone dyking. For me, this was one of the highlights of the course so far (the sunshine helped). Dyking draws on both mind and body: in envisioning and calculating the size and shape of the next stone you will use, and how this will fit into the wall at large, before the actual effort of lifting the stone and adjusting it be a stable component of the dyke. Whilst very physically demanding, for the same reasons the process was really rewarding.

Before the Easter break, we were working on the path beyond Steall Ruins, just beyond the falls. This work involved a similar sort of spatial thinking (and a fair amount of heavy lifting). Pathwork is an eye-opening process, I realised that I have walked thousands of paths, and nearly always taken for granted the direct human intervention in their making. I realise that flying under the radar like this is intended by the path-maker, as we were shown how to tidy up the work site to obfuscate our interference. It is exciting to feel like you have made a secret contribution to the journey of all the walkers who will pass that way.

In my own time, I have continued to explore Lochaber after moving here in January. I have walked in Glen Nevis most weeks since I got here, and it is really exciting to see it change through the springtime and come alive in a new way. When I moved here, I felt very conscious of the fact that, although I had travelled around Scotland extensively, I had almost never been to the Highlands in true Winter, and it was a different world. It feels like an honour to witness the changes in the hills through the seasons. Things change so quickly, all at once the buds are opening, the larch trees are beginning to look like their evergreen coniferous neighbours, there are an abundance of butterflies, the distinctive call of cuckoos is heard up and down the glen. 

Applications for the 2023 NQ Countryside Skills & Ranger Training course are now open!

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